Posted by Jason Elias on Jan 28, 2021

There is an old saying that, “the customer is always right,” However, after many years in recruitment I am sure that you will agree with me that this is not always the case.

Well, some recruiters are happy to be “yes-men” (or yes-women) and just do as their clients instruct without question. However, a good recruiter will have a strong enough relationship with their client to advise them when they are not right.

As experts in our field, we understand the market best. Clients will often overestimate the supply or interest level of candidates or underestimate the salary expectations of the market. Our role is to consult. We do our job best when we are “trusted advisors” and true consultants to diplomatically and delicately (but still forthrightly) advise our clients of what the market is doing and saying.

I recall a number of years ago when I received a brief from a new client interstate with whom I had no previous relationship and had not even heard of the firm. Once I started vetting applicants and got to the stage identifying who the client was, all the candidates would very quickly go quiet and decided not to apply for roles with that particular firm. It was not one or two; there was a consistent pattern. I called the practice manager of the firm and advised that we were getting some pushback from the market regarding the reputation of the firm and in particular the principal of the firm. She rang me the next day and told me that upon providing this information to the principal, they fired us. This was indeed unfortunate and at the time I was kicking myself. In hindsight, the way she had acted by “shooting the messenger” confirmed what I had heard about this particular individual. I no doubt saved myself a lot of headaches, including probably chasing fees and candidates being unhappy. So, whilst I may have missed out on that placement fee, I definitely dodged a bullet by not working with this person.

We are professionals and deserved to be treated as such. We get treated the way we let people treat us. Sometimes it’s better to walk away. Focus on the clients that value your input and want a genuine relationship.